Comparing children - Don't!

Parentree-editors 2009-05-19 06:09:43

Parents with multiple children often find themselves comparing one to the other.  However, here are some facts that parents must become aware of when they think about comparing them.

Each child is different

Every child is unique. Different children, even among twins, develop at a different rate. Their interests maybe different and their development of skills will vary based on that. Eventually, all your children will catch up with each other and reach optimal abilities.  Talk to parents who have multiple kids who are older. They will tell you that kids catch up with each other. So focus on the long term and don't worry about the short term.

Environments and attention vary

The environment surrounding each child is different even though we parents may not realize it. Moreover, the attention given to each child also varies.  For example, in some cases the older child may get undivided attention thus showing more progress than her later siblings who have divided attention. In other instances, the younger child may appear to learn faster because she is learning the same things as her big brother. Both of these are effects of the environment and attention given. As they vary, so does the child's short term development.

Comparing them directly is detrimental

Comparing children directly like "Look at your brother. He chews his food fast. Why can't you do it?" can easily lower the confidence of the child this remark is addressed to. They may think that unless they chew fast, they can never be the same as their brother in your eyes.  This type of comparison can have a very negative effect.

Often this type of comparison revolves around things that are important to parents. These may not match the child's developing strengths. Our focus as parents, should be to identify our children's strengths and help them develop it while improving areas they need to work on. Each child is an individual who has different strong points - find these strong points!!

Comparisons as justifications

Often comparisons are also used as justifications like "Your younger sister got a milkshake because she finished her homework". While these seem reasonable,  use the proper technique for these. Before the homework started, you should have told your kids that "As soon as your finish your homework, I will give you your milkshake". Then when one child is given the milkshake, tell the other other one "I am giving your younger sister her milkshake as she has finished her homework. I have more milkshake here and I will give you yours, as soon as you finish your homework too".  This type of process makes it clear to the child that you are not comparing them and instead setting a milestone.

Silent comparisons may find their way out

Sometimes, we as parents, silently compare our children to each other.  Though we may not express it out loud, often these internal thoughts find their way out in our actions. Children can be very perceptive about what you feel, from your actions. When they observe your actions, they will immediately understand that you are mentally comparing them to someone else.  Thus our silent comparisons may have the same effect as actually experssing them out loud.

Embrace uniqueness and celebrate strengths

Our role as parents, is to help our children grow up into good human beings who are confident, and capable. Each child is unique and we should identify and celebrate their strengths. We should help them develop more capabilities through positive encouragement rather than by comparing them. Mostly, these comparisons are detrimental to young children and achieve the opposite effect.


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